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The Hidden Printer

by Mark H. Anbinder, News Editor -- mha@baka.ithaca.ny.us

Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers

What's the bargain of the decade? Rumors of the upcoming Apple PowerPC accelerator cards aside, a remarkable deal I'm surprised isn't talked about more is the DEClaser 1152 laser printer, at $699.

Okay, so that's a bit of a convoluted sentence. My apologies. To rephrase: Digital Equipment Corporation offers a 300 dpi, PostScript Level 2 laser printer at a retail price of $699. It uses a four-page-per-minute Canon laser marking engine, supports Hewlett-Packard's PCL4, and has serial, parallel, and AppleTalk ports to support Macs, DOS, Windows, and other platforms. It's been available since 1992, but we must have been napping.

The AppleTalk port doubles as a second serial port, and in that configuration all three ports are active at once. With the port in AppleTalk mode, that and the parallel port can be simultaneously active. The printer automatically selects PostScript or PCL4 for each job it receives.

Apple's closest-competitor offerings are the Personal LaserWriter 320, which has PostScript but lacks PCL4 and costs an extra few hundred dollars, and the LaserWriter Select 360, which has all of the 1152's features, offers 600 dpi instead of 300, and sells for more than twice as much. Hewlett-Packard, also a big player in the Mac printer market, has its LaserJet 4ML in the same range as the Personal LaserWriter 320, and the LaserJet 4M costs even more than the LaserWriter Select 360.

Is the DEClaser 1152 the printer for everyone? Hardly. It's not particularly fast, its font selection is reminiscent of a 1985 LaserWriter (though it fully supports PostScript or TrueType fonts you might install on your Mac or PC), and 300 dpi isn't exciting these days. But as an entry-level printer - with inkjet or non-PostScript laser printers as the only competitively-priced options - it's worth a peek, especially if you need cross-platform capabilities.

Digital Equipment Corporation -- 800/332-4636 -- 508/493-5111
508/493-8780 (fax)